January 14, 2013

Governor Corbett Approves Bid to Privatize Lottery, Sharing Profits with an Overseas Firm

PA seniors who rely on the Lottery for everyday needs deserve a better deal

The following statement was released by Jean Friday, President of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans:

“Pennsylvania has one of the most profitable lotteries in the nation; and the only one that devotes 100% of its profits to seniors.  Pennsylvania seniors, many of whom have modest Social Security or other income that doesn’t keep up with rising health care costs or property taxes, rely on the lottery to fund the PACE program that helps them afford prescription drugs and the property-tax rebate program that helps many stay in their homes.  Furthermore, many seniors maintain their quality of life by relying on their local senior center to get a hot lunch or participate in activities.  Finally, many seniors who are no longer driving can use public transportation or ACCESS, if needed, thanks to the lottery.

“To make a long story short, the state lottery is an indispensable part of many seniors’ lives. That is why so many seniors like me are expressing outrage at the Governor’s decision to change a good thing by moving to privatize our lottery.

“The Governor wants us to go along with this plan by claiming that this move will increase profits, meaning more funding for these vital programs.  I’ve got some bad news for him – seniors weren’t born yesterday!  It’s very simple: today 100% of the lottery’s profits go toward our programs.  If UK-based Camelot Global Services gets involved, they will get a cut.  Why else would a private company want to be involved?  Why should we share our lottery profits with this company?

“Governor Corbett’s answer would be that the company will expand profits to the point where they will be higher for us even after Camelot’s cut.  The problem with that argument is that these expanded profits are based on expanded gaming opportunities including online platforms that a) may not currently be legal and b) could easily be accomplished by current lottery employees, allowing PA seniors to keep 100% of the expanded profits.

“At the end of the day, PA seniors have plenty of reason not to trust this move.  This Governor takes it as a point of pride to put state employees out of work (see the tens of thousands of teachers his budget cuts put out of work).  This Governor also has shown disdain for government programs that help people in need (look no further than his elimination of General Assistance and Adult Basic).  So it is with good reason that seniors question the motives behind this move, and whether it is made in our best interests.

“The PA Alliance for Retired Americans calls on the State Legislature to act to prevent the privatization of our Lottery, or the Governor to reconsider his callous decision.”

The Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, led by President Jean Friday of Westmoreland County, has over 300,000 members and 148 local affiliates across the Commonwealth.  PARA’s mission is to educate seniors and the public about retiree issues, and organize seniors to advocate for their interests in Harrisburg and Washington.  To learn more, visit www.pennretiredamericans.org


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